24 Hour Inspire – inspiration and hope

There are always moments at the 24 Hour Inspire that we know we’re going to remember for a long time.  It might be one of the talks, something that expanded our horizons, challenged our assumptions, inspired us to find out more about something.  It might be simply the experience of being in a lecture theatre in the early hours of the morning in your pyjamas!

This year the thing I’ll remember is our primary outreach event.

Each year we invite primary school classes along, for a hands-on science presentation.  They’re kids from schools in postcodes where participation in higher education is low, where families don’t expect children to aspire to University.   The sessions are lively (and often very loud), with lots of demonstrations of the science around sound, light, colour, and so on, and lots of chances for them to participate.  There’s often room for a few grown-ups to sneak in to these sessions and (provided they can cope with the noise) they have as good a time as the kids!

This year for the first time a class from Norfolk Park School, a designated school for children with special education needs, joined a class from a mainstream primary school.  Owl Class kids and their teachers and carers took up the front row of the lecture theatre, and loved every minute of it.  But that wasn’t all.  Not only did they enjoy the Travelling Rainbow Show, but they had a sensory session with presenters Nate and Marieke and students from our MSc in Science Communication all to themselves afterwards, designed and planned with each individual child in mind.   Trev’s favourite part was hitting his teacher Viv with a hammer (don’t try this at home, people).  Charlie loved the water beads so much his Mum had to buy some for their garden at home. Khaleel’s favourite bit was watching the presenters make things fly and Charlie (another Charlie!) really enjoyed the glow sticks and having various sensations trickled over his hands. Children with hearing and visual impairments, with mobility and learning difficulties, sharing the excitement of discovery.  That’s inspiration.

These kids may well never attend University as students – there’s too much stacked against them in terms of their learning development – but that doesn’t mean that the University can’t be a place for them.  And every moment in which they learn is all the more valuable for being so hard-won.

We’re proud to be part of a University where everyone is welcomed in, to share in the delight of learning, in whatever way they can.  Just the other day we shared the story of how aspiring scientist Jamie was invited in and given the chance to experience what his dream job might be like.  He said it made him feel special, and we hope that the children of Owl Class felt special too.

Two themes emerged from the talks this year (without any steering from the organisers).  The first was the plight of refugees, which inspired Casey Strine’s fascinating exploration of what the Biblical narratives of migration have to say about contemporary issues, Marek Szableswski’s moving account of his mother’s experiences as a refugee in wartime and postwar Europe, and Tony Ryan’s inspiring report from the Zaatari camp in Jordan.

The second was about the importance of listening to people.  Of listening to the experiences and feelings of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, of patients with motor neurone disease, of older people in relation to their sexual relationships.  This theme related very powerfully to both of the charities that we’re supporting this year.  Rotherham Hospice provide end-of-life care that meets the individual needs of patients and their families – in the hospice or in the patient’s own home.  And Impact Living provide support for vulnerable young people who are facing cancer along with so many other challenges in their lives.

There’s always sadness at this event, and that’s OK.  It’s a place where we can talk about the people we’ve lost to cancer.   But this year we also wanted to talk about hope.  Because we’ve dedicated the 2018 24 Hour Inspire to Maryam Raftari, a former PhD student here in Sheffield, who’s undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer.  She’s had an incredibly tough time, and she’s not out of the woods yet, but the most recent news was more positive than she or we were expecting.  There’s hope for Maryam, as there is for so many people with cancer, and that’s something we must hang on to.  At the end of each event we reflect on the ways in which cancer has touched all our lives, and that isn’t just about those we’ve lost, it’s about those whose difficult journey is still going on, for whom the destination is not yet known.   And we think of them with love, with gratitude, and with hope.


Thank you to everyone who made the 2018 24 Hour Inspire possible – speakers, volunteers, DJs, bakers, sponsors, musicians…

Accommodation & Commercial Services, Nate Adams, Jonathan Aitken, Ian Akroyd (Cantabile), Ayunni Alawi, Cliff Alcock (Room Bookings), Qutouf Alkindi, Beatrix Andrews, Vivien Annabel (Norfolk Park School), Carmen Apostol, Julie Askew (Outreach), Ayusp, Stuart Barkworth, Charlie Barnes (DeadEarnest Theatre Company), Peter Bath, Nick Bax (Human Studio), Georgie Beardmore (Students Union), Claire Beecroft, Cormac Behan, Josh Bengough, Donna Binyon (Impact Living), Emma Birch (Rotherham Hospice), Tim Birkhead, Chris Blackmore, Ross Blakemore, Jennifer Blundell, Chrissy Bonham, Alex Brabbs (IoP), Ryan Bramley, Lucy Brooke (Security Services), Sarah Brooks, Katie Brooman (Impact Living), Andy Brown, Naomi Brown, Sharon Brown (Impact Living), Joanna Buckley, Campus Services, Cantabile, Maria Chalasti, Steve Chesterman, Cicatrice Press, Judy Clegg, Harry Clulow (Corporate Comms), John Cockburn, Amanda Crawley Jackson, Callum Crowther, Harriet Darling, Ash Darrow (MMU), Ed Daw, Xuan Deng, Lucy Denton (Outreach), Val Derbyshire, Development & Alumni Relations Office, Laura Drew (Students Union), Oliver Eddershaw, Lizzie Ellen (Corporate Comms), Emma Evans, Alix Fell, Tobi Firth, John Flint, Forge Radio, Jenny Freeman, Rachel Gatenby, Mark Geoghegan, Mary Going, Irene Gonzalez, Simon Goodwin, Santhana Gopalakrishnan (Students Union), Michael Goudreault (Outreach), Sue Grant, Becky Haire (Outreach), Matt Hallett (Give as you Live), Melanie Hannah, Richard Hardcastle, Lottie Harrap, Mark Harris, David Hayes, Svenja Helmes, Tony Henshaw, Esther Hobson, Julie Hobson (Campus Services), Ingunn Holen, Sam Holland (Migration Matters), Chris Howett, Peter Jalowiczor, Susan Jarvis, John’s Van, Ben Jones, Richard Jones, Ceyda Kekec, Sam Kendall (Cicatrice), Aneurin Kennerley (York University), Paul Kerry, Sabahat Khan, Marie Kinsey, Chuhan Li, Peggy Lim (We are International), Sabine Little, Graham McElearney, Pat & Nick McGrath, Zuzka Majcova, Matthew Malek, Oliver Manning, Emily Marlow, Sheryl Mather (Print & Design Solutions), Tess Meaker (Norfolk Park School), Media Team, Pete Mella, Jost Migenda, Tracey Moore, Wyn Morgan, David Mowbray, MSc Science Communication, Alfie Nash, Marieke Navin (SHIFT Digital), Norfolk Park School, Laura Nuttall, Ellie Oakley (IoP), Pete Odell, Rosie Ogunade, Wemi Oke, Luke O’Neill, Our Mel, Folakemi Omotoye, Eleni Panagopoulou, Richard Parker, Yiannis Paschalides, Dave Petley, Monifa Phillips, Emily Pinson (PhySoc), Maria Plesia, Ana Gabriela Popa, Miruna Popescu, Chloe Prince, Print & Design Solutions, Public Engagement & Impact, Chella Quint, Maryam Raftari, Amber Regis, Keith & Barbara Richardson, Matt Richardson, Jonathan Ridgway, Melanie Rimmer, Matt Robson, Angie Rollinson, Komarine Romdenh-Romluc, Kathryn Rooney, Angie Ryan, Tony Ryan, Rebecca Sandeman (Cicatrice),  Jenny Saul, ScHAARmony, Sophie Searle, Chris Sexton, Mariam Wagih Shafiek, Sheffield Boardgames Club, Maryam Shokralla, Fuschia Sirois, Xiaoje Song, Brendan Stone, Nicola Strafford (Public Engagement), Chris Stride, Casey Strine, University of Sheffield Students Union, Anthea Sutton, Marek Szablewski (Durham University), Mohamed Taha, Beatrice Taylor (Campus Services), Paul Tetley (Print & Design Solutions), Lee Thompson, Ruth Thompson (Cantabile), Hannah Thorpe, Matt Timms, Annalisa Toccara (Our Mel), Treehouse Board Game Cafe, Joan Upson, Rosie Valerio, Alistair Warren, Richard Webb, Kimberley Weir (Nottingham University), Jim Weston, Charlotte Wilcox (Room Bookings), Daniel Wild, Luke Wild, Seán Williams,  Lindsay Wilson (Catering Services), Shaoman Wu, Tom Wymer, Zifa Zuhair

Special thanks to task group members: Jamie Blakeman, Mark Clowes, Lynette Hodges, Ruby Kell, Ian Knowles, Jordan McElwee, Aysha Musa, Greg Oldfield, Isabel Richardson, Niveditha Shanmuganathan, Emma Stevens, Andy Tattersall, Nicky Thompson, Mike Weir, Weilin Wu


Our fundraising page is open until the end of May, so if you came along and enjoyed the event, or if you couldn’t be there but are inspired by what we do, and by the work of the charities we support, please do donate.  If you miss the deadline for the My Donate page, just go to the Donate page on the website and click the button!


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